December 14, 2009

Winter Adventure with the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship

Another spectacular outing with the Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship ends, and with it that last tracking outing of 2009.

This trip took us out to explore a new location over Stevens Pass and onto the East slope of the mountains. We had set our sights on the possibility of wolverine tracks and found ourselves exploring with new eyes. It did not take us long to find an interesting set of tracks crossing a road in the snow.

From Tracking Apprenticeship Winter Outing

These tracks moved around in loping gaits typical of many members of the weasel family. The tracks above are those of a large American marten. Following the tracks of this animal led us to find many other interesting tracks such as those of ruffed grouse, short-tailed weasel, Douglas squirrel, deer mice, bald eagle, river otter, beaver and others.

From Tracking Apprenticeship Winter Outing

The winter landscape itself was absolutely incredible to behold. Frost formed fantastic shapes on the top of the frozen waterways we crossed and re-crossed. It was towards the tail end of our adventures, following tracks near the edge of a large meadow that we discovered something odd.

From Tracking Apprenticeship Winter Outing

We picked up a strange trail made of very worn, over-sized tracks. We debated exactly what sort of gait we were looking at and what animal made it. We considered that perhaps this was the wolverine tracks we had set out to see.

From Tracking Apprenticeship Winter Outing

We followed the trail as far as we could and found a few tracks that showed subtle toes. Four toes, and a blocky looking heel pad. After much pondering, we came to the agreement that it was most likely tracks of another rare species in these parts... a Canada lynx.

What a day! Looking forward to more tracking in the new year.

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